Saquon Barkley is looking for running lanes, not excuses.
Two months after he suffered a high ankle sprain and missed three games, Barkley is not blaming his injury for five straight games with less than 75 rushing yards. And he is tired of hearing speculation the injury has caused him to lose some explosiveness.
Use as evidence the spin move he put on Prince Amukamara to avoid a tackle for loss or the 22-yard run late in the defeat Sunday to the Chicago Bears.
“Did I look hurt?” Barkley asked rhetorically. “No. So let’s stop making an excuse that I’m hurt. I’m not hurt! Let’s stop making an excuse I’m not 100 percent. Nobody is 100 percent.”
The Giants have plenty of other possible causes for their disappointing rushing attacking, including missed offensive line blocks and a rookie quarterback in Daniel Jones slower to diagnose defenses willing to stack the box and dare an injury-plagued and Odell Beckham-less receiver corps to go down the field.
“I can pull up multiple clips where you can look back and see I’m doing the same thing that I did in college or that I did my [rookie] year,” Barkley said. “The season is not going the way I’d like it. I’m not going to put blame on anyone else. You have to point fingers at yourself first.
“I have to be better. I’m going to keep working. I put in my notes today: The great ones figure it out. And I want to be great. I’m going to figure it out.”
The Giants designated outside linebacker Kareem Martin to return from injured reserve, starting a three-week practice clock. Before it expires, Martin, who hurt his knee in Week 1, either needs to be activated or shut down for the season.
“Everything is day-by-day at this point,” Martin said. “Ever since I’ve been eligible to return, I’ve had the mindset to be ready. It feels good being active after being on the shelf so long.”
Because the Giants used their other IR return spot on cornerback Sam Beal, wide receiver Russell Shepard (foot) cannot return. Shepard will enter free agency after playing in three games in his second season with the Giants.
“At this point, it’s not all about money with me,” the eight-year veteran Shepard said. “I’ve made some good money. My family likes it here. I like it here. For the rest of my career, if I can, I’d love to finish out for the New York Football Giants.”
The Giants promoted wide receiver Da’Mari Scott from the practice squad to return punts, with Jabrill Peppers (back) and Golden Tate (concussion) in danger of missing Sunday’s game. Peppers, Tate, Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison did not practice Wednesday.